Reverend in abuse case had a prior conviction

Parish church of St. Andrew Norway. Eastbourne. March 2011 E09012M
Parish church of St. Andrew Norway. Eastbourne. March 2011 E09012M

CHURCH officials knew a priest had a conviction for child sex abuse when he was given a job at St Andrew’s Church in Seaside.

A report released last week revealed that Roy Cotton was convicted in 1954 but he went on to be a priest at the church in Seaside in the 1980s and sexually abused a number of young boys.

The report, by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, said senior clergy had been slow to act on information, slow to assess potential risk to children and there was a serious lack of understanding within the church on the issue of child abuse.

Two of Cotton’s victims, brothers Phil and Gary Johnson, who were choirboys at the church, have waived their anonymity and spoken out against the church’s failings to protect them.

There are thought to be countless other victims who have yet to come forward who suffered at the hands of Cotton, who died in 2006.

As the report was released, the Bishop of Chichester apologised for the institutional failings after Cotton and fellow priest Colin Pritchard abused young boys.

Bishop Hind said, “I feel deep and profound sorrow for the pain caused to all victims and for the institutional failings of the church in this diocese.

“I am grateful to Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for her thorough review.

“The report has now been completed, and her conclusions and recommendations are in line with what we are now doing and will continue to build on, and it will provide a strong foundation for good safeguarding practice in the diocese.

“It also enables me to repeat the apology offered for mistakes made in the past.”

Pritchard was jailed for five years in 2008 after pleading guilty to sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s and 80s.